A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, December 25, 2011

5 Reasons Why This Was My Best Christmas Ever!

  1. It was my 1st Christmas married to Jonathan.   Thanks to Mom and Don for our "1st Christmas" ornament!  We have been married for 170 days today! We love being married, but most importantly we love being married to each other! We each had many lonely Christmases in the past.  We weren't lonely this year and for that we are both very thankful!  Jonathan's Dad told us yesterday that we are a "Match Made in Heaven". He's right! This kind of match could be nothing other than something orchestrated by the Creator of Love, God Himself.                                               
  2. We have started our own Family Christmas traditions.  We love our families of origin and our extended family and we love to celebrate with them, but what was extra special about this year is that we started our own family traditions.  It's hard to start your own Christmas traditions as a single person, because your family of origin is your only family. We may not have children, but we do have our little family. We both agreed it was important to starts those traditions for our 1st married Christmas, because they get harder to change as the years pass.  It is important to us to see family, so this year we saw family on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day was just us.  Our tradition is that we will spend 1 day with family and 1 day with just us.  I will touch on why this is important for me this time of year when I get to reason # 5.
  3. We both put a lot of thought and effort into purchasing gifts for each other.  Last year we both asked each other what we wanted for Christmas, but we didn't really know, and neither of us ended up purchasing gifts for the other.  I didn't realize that "Gifts" was one of my top love languages until I didn't get anything from Jonathan.  This year, we both put a lof of effort into it, and the effort paid off.  It's not about the money spent, but rather about the effort put into making the other person feel special.  We were both successful at that this year!  It's fun to be someone's top priority when it comes to gift giving!
  4. We have been blessed and therefore were able to bless others this Christmas.  Last year we started a tradition of helping those in need. and sponsored a family at the local homeless shelter.  This year my Small Group sponsored a family where a set of Grandparents are raising their 8 Grandchildren.  I got tired just reading their ages.  Jonathan and I contributed to making this family's Christmas more special. That's a good feeling!  We were also able to bless our nieces/nephews, parents, etc with gifts. For many years as a single person money was tight and on top of that I wasn't managing my money as well as we are now. I was often unable to give presents to family.  It feels good to be a blessing to others and we are thankful for how blessed we are!  We have no wedding to pay for and we have 1 rent instead of 2.  We are also down to 1 student loan and 1 car payment! All of these things sure make a huge difference!
  5. My SAD is much more controlled this year.  December has been a hard month for me for as long as I can remember but especially since 12/8/1999 when my Dad passed away.  SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder which is also known as Winter Depression.  The symptoms start in early Fall and end when Spring begins. Some of the symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family, social activities, and lack of interest in activities you typically enjoy during the spring/summer months.  For these reasons, Christmas isn't one of my favorite Holidays.  I am thankful to God for sending us our most important Gift of His Son Jesus!  However, Easter is my favorite Holiday because of the comfort of the Resurrection.  This Christmas has been my best Christmas Ever, and here are the  reasons why:  This year I have the stability/security of being married, I have been walking, I am on medicine that is controlling the depression/anxiety quite well.  Typically I cry a lot this time of year and withdraw from social activities because I just want to hibernate and be alone.  I'm happy to say I haven't really cried at all this year. I wish Christmas was in July, because then I would spend more time with my family of origin/extended family.  I still get stressed easily and this is another reason why Jonathan and I decided to start our tradition of spending either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day alone. Many love all of the hustle and bustle of seeing so many family members in a 2 day time frame.  In the Summer, I wouldn't give it a 2nd thought. I love spending time with friend's and family!   However, in the winter, I often lack the energy to do so and it's hard to be around groups of people when I'm not feeling very well. 
I want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year! 


Jen (& Jonathan)

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Gift

     In 9 days I will celebrate my first married Christmas with my husband Jonathan!  Today at work I heard the most AMAZING song on the radio!  It is by Collin Raye and Susan Ashton and it's called "The Gift"!  I've coined this as our Christmas love song! You can watch the video and lyrics belowif you'd like, or you can go here to view the lyrics. Thankfully Jonathan approves and agrees that it is a beautiful song! We are blessed beyond belief!  Obviously our most important Christmas gift is the birth of our Savior. He is the Reason for the Season!  

     I'm very much looking forward to our 1st married Christmas together!  In my many single years, I felt the loneliness of being single much more around the Holidays. We both spent many lonely Christmases in the past, and this makes us appreciate each other all the more!  I'm keenly aware of the fact that we live in a "couple's world".  It's unfortunate, because we are all unique individuals who should be accepted and acknowledged for who we are, not for what our marital status is!  Can I get an AMEN?! :)  I was a complete person before I met Jonathan, and I'm a complete person now, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm married!  Am I less lonely, yes! Do I feel a greater sense of peace and contentment, yes! Are there some things I miss about being single, there are a few things I suppose, but remember I had many years of the single life (which I enjoyed for the most part) and now I'm enjoying my married life with the man God sent to me in His perfect timing! :)  Did I doubt God would ever send me my "Mr. Right"?  Yep, sure did!  I didn't know if that was His plan for me or not.  Deep down I knew God had my best interest at heart, but I sure was lonely around the Holidays. 

     This year I'm thankful for the "The Gift" of my husband Jonathan and the love and bond that we share. Some may think this song is corny, but it touches my heart and I'm so thankful that regardless of if God blesses us with 5 married Christmases together on this earth or 50 married Christmase before He decides to call one or both of us home to heaven, what matters is that we get to spend THIS Christmas together. We will never again have a "1st Married Christmas Together". Jonathan is my 2nd most important Christmas gift. He would say the same about me and I'm more than OK with that!  :)

Jonathan, "I'm thankful EVERY day for The Gift"! :) 

Merry Christmas Baby! :)


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home For Christmas

December 8th, 1999 was a life changing day for me and my family.  That is the day the Lord called my 59 year old Dad (Herbert William Latzke) home to heaven, leaving my Mom a 47 year old widow and my 2 sisters and I ages 25, 24, and 21 without an earthly Father.  Our world hasn't been the same since then.  Yes, life went on, but it has never been the same. Two months after Dad died, Mom was diagnosed with cancer.  Twelve years later, my Mom has been married to Don for 10 years, my Sister Pam has been married to Eddie for 16 & a half years, my Sister Debbie has been married to Scott for 10 & a half years, and I have been married to Jonathan for 5 months! :) Now we have our new normal.  December 8th is never an easy day for me.  I think Dad dying so close to Christmas has made Christmas a not so fun time for me.  However, this year I get to spend Christmas with my husband. My family is strong and I believe God has used our experiences to mold us into stronger people who can be there to comfort others as they grieve losses in their own lives. Everything happens for a reason.  I found this description about grieving the loss of a parent and I see it as being very accurate to the feelings I have experienced, so I wanted to share it with you.

"Remember, you have every reason to grieve. A parent’s death often leaves adult children with a sense of abandonment and even panic that catches us by surprise. But why are we caught off guard when the death of the "ma-ma" or "da-da" whose name we struggled to utter as tiny tots leaves us reeling or depressed or sleepless? We may have lived enough years to be an adult but we will always be a child in relation to our parents. Even if we find ourselves "parenting our parents" before their deaths, it is the parent of our youth and childhood that we bury. And, as author R. Scott Sullender says in Losses in Later Life, "The world is a different place after our parents die." Seldom are we, as adults, ready for a parent’s death. We may be busy building our careers or raising our families; we may be spending our free time traveling or seeking to settle down; we may be living close by or a continent away from our parents. Whatever the circumstances, it is virtually impossible to prepare ourselves emotionally for the loss.Well-meaning friends and others may seek to console us by saying, "Your mother lived a long, full life" or "Your dad was suffering so much- surely it’s a blessing." But those phrases ring hollow when it is our beloved mother or our dear dad who lies in the casket. Even if we experience a strong sense of relief mixed with our grief, the sorrow is very deep and very real."  Judy Ball
Here is a picture of my Dad's grave which was taken sometime after his funeral on December 11th, 1999.  He truly was "Home For Christmas". This will be his 13th Christmas in heaven.  I have also included the poem the Pastor read to the family in the basement of the Church before my Dad's funeral began. 

My First Christmas in Heaven
by Unknown
I've had my first Christmas in Heaven,
A glorious, wonderful day!
I stood with the saints of the ages,
Who found Christ, the truth and the Way.
I sang with the Heavenly choir:
Just think! I who loved to sing!
And, Oh! What celestial music
We brought to our Savior and King!
We sang the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And how they had called His name Jesus,
That all might be saved through His name.
We sang once with the angels,
The song that they spoke that blest morn
When shepherds first heard the glad story
That Jesus, the Savior, was born
O dear ones, I wish you had been here.
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all the rapture and glory
We witnessed in Heaven so fair.
You know how I always loved Christmas;
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me,
The children so happy and gay.
Yes, now I can see why I loved it.
And Oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me,
To share in the glories I see.
So, dear ones on earth, here’s my greeting,
Look up till the day dawn appears,
And Oh, what a Christmas awaits us
Beyond our parting tears.

I love you and miss you Dad! You are never forgotten and always loved!  Looking forward to seeing you again someday!  In fact, I'm really kind of envious of how you get to spend your Christmases! :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God's Gift To Me!

Most of you know that my Husband's name is Jonathan.  Well, I found out tonight while browsing the internet that the meaning of Jonathan's name is "God has given" or "Gift of God".  Wow! I'm convinced Jonathan is the 2nd most special/important gift God has ever given me, second only to God's gift of His only Son so that I will have eternal life in heaven!   Here is a list of just a few of the many ways Jonathan has blessed my life. He has brought more of each of these things into my life:

J - Joy - God has brought such Joy to my life thru Jonathan.
O - Opportunity - God has given me the opportunity to grow as a person and in my faith thru my relationship with Jonathan.
N - Knowledge- Anyone who knows Jonathan knows that he holds a plethora of knowledge in that head! He shares it with me everyday.
A - Acceptance - God has shown me more of what His acceptance and Grace are like, as Jonathan accepts me just as I am, flaws and all.
T -  Thankfulness -  I am SO thankful God sent me the right person to share my life with in His perfect timing.
H - Humor - Jonathan makes me laugh every single day!  Laughter truly is medicine for the soul.
A -  Appreciation - I appreciate my Husband so much more because of the fact that I was single for so long. I never want to take him for granted, although I am human, so I'm sure I will at some point.
N -  Nourishment - God continues to nourish my heart and soul thru Jonathan. Jonathan has a much better understanding of His unconditional love and teaches me about what unconditional love is on a daily basis.

Here is a picture which so perfectly captures the joy and laughter we share.  It was taken by my awesome Sister-In-Law Sandy of Sandra Ellen Photography at our Wedding Dinner in Clearwater Beach, FL on 7/8/2011.

I love you Jonathan and I couldn't imagine spending my life with anyone else!  I look forward to growing with you and in our relationship with God, individually and as a couple.

You truly are God's gift to me! :)